Video Transcript: Hannah Gray, Long Beach Family Lawyer
Dan Couvrette: I have the pleasure today to be speaking with Hannah Gray, a family lawyer from Long Beach, California. I’m excited to be talking with Hannah because she is the first and might be the last lawyer I’ll ever talk to who has both done bungee jumping and skydiving. Those are high-risk activities, so she must have nerves of steel, which is a great asset for a family lawyer. Hannah was a philanthropy chair at her college sorority, which tells me that she cares – and it’s very important to care about your clients.
Hannah, what made you become a family lawyer? What was the inspiration for you to be a family lawyer rather than business or criminal or whatever else you could be in the area of law?
Hannah Gray: I’ve worked on many different cases and all different types and areas of law and every single time I got a family law case, it really spoke to me. Family is very important to me and so I think that all along, it’s just really been my calling. It took me about a year to figure that out but now I love every single-family law case that I take on.
I know you work at the family law firm, Gilligan, Frisco and Trutanich and there are lots of great lawyers there. Does working with these other very seasoned lawyers mean something to you?
Hannah: Of course. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with each attorney here. They’re all so talented and skilled in everything that they do so I’m very grateful to be learning each and every day from the best.
How would you describe yourself in terms of your ethics or your values? I’m trying to get to your character. How would you describe yourself?
Hannah: Family, like I said earlier, is incredibly important to me. I’m very close with my family. We’ve always been a tight-knit family growing up. I think that’s very important, especially being a divorce attorney. These clients are going through sometimes the worst times of their life, and I think it’s very important to understand that even in those times they’re still a family and helping to get through that time is very important. I think coming from such a tight-knit family plays into why I’m so passionate about being a family law attorney.
You mentioned passion. Is there anything specifically about it? Does it have to do with the children? Does it have to do with setting people off so that they can restart their life again? Is it to make sure that somebody’s well protected? Are any of these things kind of resonating with you?
Hannah: In my experience, the children always have to come first. They’re the most important parts of a family and protecting the kids is always the first and foremost interest in my opinion and keeping the family together as much as possible and just realizing what’s important, how to prioritize. I think it all comes into play. But yes, I definitely think that children are definitely the most important, and just keeping family is a priority in the back of your head throughout sometimes some of the most difficult days of your life.
Is there anything about your upbringing? I mentioned you jumping out of planes and things but is there anything else about your upbringing that you think ties in with you being a lawyer or being a family lawyer?
Hannah: I’ve traveled a lot in my life and it’s interesting to travel to different countries to see how and what family means to people in different areas all throughout the world. I think at the end of the day family is always most important and always should be most important. Even in the townships of Uganda, that’s still the most important thing. It doesn’t matter what you have or who you’re with, it’s about family.
Are there any particular types of cases that you deal with or issues that you deal with specifically in the family law cases that you handle?
Hannah: I’ve dealt mostly with child custody. Figuring out visitation schedules, a lot of times with parents’ work and, you know, trying to figure out who watches who on what days. It can get difficult, the ins and outs of the holiday schedules and times, pickups, drop-offs. It can be complicated. That’s one of my areas of expertise I would say.
What makes you good at doing that sort of work?
Hannah: I listen to what my client wants. I listen to what’s important to them, how they’re going to manage day by day, their long-term goals, and just communication. Working with a client, having a good rapport and relationship with your client to be able to manage through some difficulties of the scheduling, I think is very important.
I don’t have to tell you that divorce is stressful, and it’s something that you face every day working with your clients and it’s challenging. I’ve been through a divorce myself. I know that it’s challenging to keep your balance as a divorcing person. Are there any strategies or things that you do to help keep that balance for your clients or get them back in balance if they’re out of balance?
Hannah: I really like to ask my clients what they enjoyed, you know, before things got stressful before their life kind of got pulled out from under them. What did they enjoy doing? What can they start doing again with their kids, by themselves, work/life balance? All of those come into play to kind of help them regain their balance in their lives again, I think it’s not just one thing and to each person, it may be different. But I think really just having a good relationship, talking to your client, figuring out what they need is very important.
I know that as a lawyer you’re often treated as very much a confidant by your clients. Is there anything that’s surprised you or you thought, gee, I didn’t think anybody would tell me that sort of thing as they were going through a divorce? Is there anything that stands out with the cases you’ve dealt with?
Hannah: Of course, and without naming specific facts or instances I can say that the client confides in you. It’s a very meaningful moment. It means that you know that you have their trust and that’s very special to me and that’s happened on several different occasions, and I don’t take that lightly. Sometimes an attorney is the only person that our clients have to turn to and I think it’s very, very important to be able to have that relationship with your attorney, that you can tell them those things that you may not necessarily be able to tell anyone else.
Given that it is a stressful job looking at your side of it, what do you do outside? I know you do bungee jumping, skydiving. What do you do to manage the stress for yourself so you can come back fresh every day to work with people who are going through stress?
Hannah: I think working out is a huge stress reliever for me. I do enjoy my workout classes, sometimes kickboxing more than others, I think. I do have the two-year-old Bernese Mountain dog so being able to have some good puppy playtime with him always helps.
I happen to know your dog’s name. It’s Bowie. Is that after David Bowie?
Hannah: Everyone asks me that. It’s not necessarily after David Bowie, but if you’re a David Bowie fan, then you can go with that.
What would clients say about you if I was interviewing them? What sort of comments would they make?
Hannah: That I really care. It’s not just a case. It’s not just paperwork to me. I understand and realize that these are people’s lives, and each client matters to me in so many ways. I don’t take their case lightly and I truly care about helping them through it. I think sometimes my clients feel lost before they come to me, and they understand once after talking to me that they have someone on their side no matter what.
I think you do a great job of taking care of your clients, but in your own words what do you think the benefits would be of hiring you? And maybe you can even tie in your firm because I know there are a lot of great lawyers there and as well as yourself.
Hannah: When you hire one of us, you get the entire team. It’s really a team of people working day in and day out to make sure that we do as much as we can to help you get as much as necessary from the case. We want our clients to come out better with a whole new perspective. I think you don’t just get one great attorney, you get several, plus an entire team of support staff to help them through it.
The support staff is critical as well because they have lots and lots of experience, don’t they?
Hannah: They’re incredible, so amazing. They care just as much as the attorneys, if not more. On some days I know they stay late, they work overtime hours just to make sure everything is filed, everything is drafted properly, everything is served. They’re incredible people and amazing workers.
To learn more about Hannah Gray, go to her law firm’s website: www.gftlawyers.com.